On The Blog: In Memory of Linda Griffiths
A note from Layne Coleman:
Linda’s writing was her way of bringing meaning to her life. She was never without a project or two on the go. She was also someone who consciously made sure that she remained in touch with her friends. She was the center of a large social salon and a gifted mentor for writers.
For those of us left living after someone important to us has died, we try to bring meaning to that loss. This can be in the way of concrete gestures or can also mean “talking about” the person who has left us… there are many ways we do this. Two of them are at Theatre Passe Muraille: It is the Linda Griffiths Stairwell I am referring to and the City of Toronto has named the alley adjacent to Theatre Passe Muraille, Linda Griffiths Lane. Linda spent many hours in that lane decompressing from her work in the theatre and often made discoveries there that helped her structure and improve her hit shows. As Paul Thompson said at the unveiling of the Linda Griffiths Lane, “The alley is an extension of the creative environment of the theatre itself, particularly, The Backspace.”
Linda had a fondness for Theatre Passe Muraille, (she performed there more than any other actor over the years), they produced a great deal of her new work, but also she enjoyed the opening nights there. The shows and parties that followed. She often would sit in the stairwell on the southwest corner of the building. All through her many ventures there she entertained and held court on that stairwell. It became known as Linda’s Landing and now as the Linda Griffiths Stairwell. Before she died she asked that a bench be commissioned in her name and placed somewhere in Theatre Passe Muraille. Andy McKim (Artistic Director and mensch of TPM) was enthusiastic and so I mentioned this to Jonathan Rooke, a former production manager of the company, and he asked Will Sutton, a carpenter/musician/Master of Tech, to build a bench worthy of her name. He did this in maple wood and the bench is there for all to see and sit upon should it please them to…. above the bench are a series of framed photos from her life.
The bench has a real heft and size to it… a thing of beauty and it stretches the width of the stairwell. On the night of her memorial it brought me comfort to see, David Fox, the iconic TPM actor sitting there with his and Linda’s friends. When you sit there you feel in a sacred space; one where making jokes is more than acceptable, it is required. I invite anyone who attends a show at Theatre Passe Muraille (and I believe this season to be a particularly worthy one) to come and sit on Linda’s bench and just see what comes of it. Then wander awhile down Linda Griffiths Lane… Perhaps you will make some sort of discovery there as Linda often did.
– Layne Coleman
Linda Pauline Griffiths, actress, producer, writer (born 7 October 1953 in Montréal, QC; died 21 September 2014 in Toronto, ON).
*We encourage you all to celebrate Linda Griffiths by visiting these memorial spaces in her name on your next trip to TPM and catch her work, Age of Arousal, in its closing weekend Nov. 6 – 8 at Factory Theatre. For more information on tickets and the show, check out the Factory Theatre website here.
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